Posts tagged ‘coal’
Imagine a place where a twelve-year-old Native American girl, standing up for her community, threatened by the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, can work with leading environmentalists like Bill McKibben and Michael Brune to help save her family’s health and her community’s history.
This idea became a reality this weekend. The seven members of the UNC Beyond Coal campaign who attended Power Shift conference experienced similar incredible opportunities.
Approximately 6000 college students and environmental organizers gathered at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh from October 18th to October 20th to make national connections for their campaigns, learn strategies to take back to their campuses, and to get inspired to make serious changes in the world.
Upon our arrival, after a warm welcome from Power Shift volunteers, we were handed a sheet of business cards with our contact information and encouraged to exchange them with people we would meet throughout the weekend. This set a precedent for the atmosphere of the conference, as even in the lobby of the convention center before the kick-off keynote presentation we spoke with people from campaigns all over the country so we could hear about their successes.
Even before the official conference kick-off, people organized protests outside local businesses like EQT, who supported harming indigenous people of Elsipogtog as they peacefully blockaded the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline over their land.
The excitement for change in Pittsburgh was almost tangible.
The conference officially kicked off with exciting keynote speakers like Bill Peduto, the democratic candidate for the Mayor of Pittsburgh, and Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a twelve year old singer/songwriter advocating for a better quality of life in Indigenous territories who has spoken at the UN conference. These inspirational speakers challenged us to take advantage of everything Power Shift offered to have the best experience possible.
Picture from US Climate Plan
Watch the video here.
The next day of the conference started the numerous workshops and panels, with a selection so large we sat in our housing site wondering how we’d be able to split ourselves up to cover everything that we wanted to see. Topics ranged from “Protecting Human Health in Fracked Communities” and “Discussions on Food Justice” to anti-oppression trainings and divestment campaign breakout sessions. We learned a lot of new information from these panels while also taking the opportunity to help lead some like “Getting Creative with Campus Media” and a breakout session focusing on starting your own divestment campaign.
Although we learned a lot from the panels, the best parts of the conference arguably happened outside the walls of the convention center. Over the weekend we had the pleasure of spending lunch with friends at San Francisco State University, who just successfully divested from fossil fuels, and we attended an impromptu open mic night featuring environmental writers and musicians hoping to showcase their art to a supportive audience. Also, we stayed in a hostel called the Pittsburgh Project along with many other Power Shifters, which had a game room with plenty of pool tables, ping pong tables, and places to relax and make friendships with like-minded people. Times like these really supplemented the experience of the weekend. Footage from Open Mic Night
Now that we’re back on campus we’re pumped and ready to begin more hard work for coal divestment right here at UNC, but we’re so grateful that we had the opportunity to experience everything Power Shift had to offer.
- Will Schoeffler
Want more information about the campaign?
The Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) is a broad network of high school and college-aged youth from across the country working to protect the environment. The SSC is the youth-led chapter of the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. Our mission is simple: “to train, empower, and organize youth to run effective campaigns that result in tangible environmental victories and that develop leaders for the environmental movement.”
- Sign our online petition for coal divestment at UNC on Change.org
- Like our UNC Sierra Student Coalition page on Facebook
- Join our UNC Beyond Coal Facebook group
- Follow @sscunc for updates on Twitter
Want to learn more about the national campaign for university endowments to divest from dirty coal? Check out www.wearepowershift.org/campaigns/divestcoal
Just weeks after 77% of UNC’s student body voted in favor of coal divestment, our Student Congress has voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting the university’s $2.1 billion endowment from the dirtiest, most carbon intensive coal mining and coal burning companies in the nation.
The 94th Student Congress of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as the elected legislative authority of the Student Government of the University, representing all of the 29,278 students of the student body expresses its support for UNC’s endowment divesting from coal companies.
The resolution passed on Tuesday night by a 24-6 vote, which in addition to the referendum will send a strong message to the administration and the Board of Trustees that divestment and the bigger picture of climate change are issues that students at UNC are deeply concerned about and issues that the university must take action on immediately.
The referendum on the student ballot was significant, and it is encouraging to know that such a large percentage of the student body is supportive of the divestment campaign. But the support from Student Congress that we have received is even more significant, as they represent all 29,278 students at UNC Chapel Hill.
Since the results of the election last month were announced, the administration has been unresponsive to our requests to present at the UNC Board of Trustees meeting from March 27th-28th. The Board has no excuse to continue to ignore this issue, and should allow the UNC Sierra Student Coalition to make an educational presentation to them at the meeting. We hope that the resolution that was passed will place even more pressure on the university to divest. But whether we are able to make a presentation or not, we will be at the Board meeting in numbers, and we extend the invitation to all of you to join us. Can you bring a friend?
LOTS of reasons UNC should divest from coal
Gearing up for the Flash Dance @ UNC tomorrow! Going to be meeting in front of South Building @ 12:50pm.
Details/event on Facebook.
Thanks to all the people who came out for I <3 Mountains Week! For those that were unfortunate enough to have missed out, here’s a quick recap:
Starting on March 1st, Coal-Free UNC held “I <3 Mountains Week” to raise awareness about the destructive practice of mountain top removal coal mining. Because, of course, if you heart mountains you try your darndest not to blow them to smithereens.
The week-long event came amidst news that the Red River Coal Company, which provides some of the coal used to power UNC’s cogeneration facility, practices mountain top removal.
- A concert by cellist Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore. The proceeds benefited two organizations who really heart some mountains – Appalachian Voices and ILovemountains.org.
- A talk by Austin Hall of Appalachian Voices
- AND a Mountain Top Removal Demonstration by Coal-Free UNC artistically reinterpreted in the form of paper mache, the video of which can be seen below.
On Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, stopped by UNC’s Cogeneration Plant to voice his support for a Coal-Free UNC, and to encourage other colleges to stop burning coal, which pollutes the environment and contributes to global climate change. Check out Dr. Hansen sporting his Beyond Coal shirt!
Note: this is just the short version. Visit our youtube channel to watch the full length version of the press conference with comments from community member and neighbor to the plant Dr. Pat Leighten, glaciologist and UNC faculty Dr. Jose Rial, and UNC student Stewart Boss.
Dr. James Hansen of NASA and Columbia University will be coming to UNC on Feb. 1st to discuss global climate change. He has kindly agreed to stop by UNC’s Cogeneration Facility the next day on Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, to voice his support for a Coal-Free UNC. We are honored to have one of the most prominent climatologists recognize our efforts to get rid of a harmful, dirty and archaic energy source on Carolina’s campus and beyond. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by! Facebook event RSVP Google doc RSVP
Last semester we kicked off the Sierra Club Coal-Free Campus Campaign in Chapel Hill. Since our first Kick-Off meeting we’ve been making steady progress to move Carolina Beyond Coal. Last year, hundreds of students showed they wanted clean energy by working on the campaign and signing our petition to Chancellor Thorp encouraging him to work towards a clean energy future at UNC.
We have the potential to make the campaign even bigger and better this semester. But we need your help! Show the university that we truly care about the environment, our health, and our future. Come out to our Kick-Off Meeting to learn about the campaign and how you can become involved!
The Kick-Off Party will be at 7pm on Jan. 27, Wednesday in Dey Hall. RSVP at the link and we hope to see you there!
Sierra Club Beyond Coal Director Bruce Nilles on the campaign:
Stewart Boss, one of our coordinators for the Coal-Free UNC campaign, recently had his op-ed published in The Herald-Sun. Click on the link to read Stewart’s boss article (pun very much intended).
Check out the video from our rally! Rather rally in the rain, than have dirty coal at Carolina.